Customer demand for plant-based options on restaurant menus proven by a successful winter Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week.
Maryland Vegan Eats closed out winter Vegan Restaurant Week with over 40 participating restaurants, many grateful restaurant patrons, and some new financial supporters. Each summer and winter, vegans, plant-based advocates, foodies, and the veg-curious look forward to Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week. The organizers, Samantha Claassen of Golden West Café and Naijha Wright-Brown of the award-winning, vegan soul food bistro, The Land of Kush, which is celebrating 10 years in business, anticipate the excitement of patrons waiting to see what new vegan items will be added to restaurant menus and if any of their favorite or new restaurants will consider signing up to participate.
“Restaurants are usually looking to bring new business in and what a way to do this and appease a market you might not be catering to right now,” said event co-founder and co-owner, Naijha Wright-Brown.
Samantha Claassen expressed, “This event is about sharing the beauty and simplicity of vegan food. We started an annual vegan week in our restaurant six years ago because there was a lack of options and understanding of what vegan food really is. We wanted to have a week where we focused on an underserved community of people, so we gave vegans a place to share a meal. I’ve always dreamed that other establishments would join in and am happy to have finally partnered with The Land of Kush after years of hoping.”
Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week allows for restaurants to be more creative with their cuisines by using plant-based and vegan ingredients while at the same time expanding their reach into new markets. Part of the success of Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week is the liberty that vegan, plant- based, and even veg-curious patrons have in choosing these options over meat-centric dishes because of increased availability at more restaurant locations. Some of the most talked-about vegan and plant- based dishes during the month-long week, which ran from February 5 through February 28, were MEZ Baltimore’s Achiote Braised Mushroom Taco, Heritage Kitchen’s Brussell Sprouts and Vegetable Lumpia, Koshary by MISTEKA bowls, PLNT Burger’s Chick N’ Funguy sandwich and REVIVE’s cold-pressed juices.
One of Maryland Vegan Eats’ newest sponsors, DefaultVeg, has agreed to host a free one-hour webinar on Thursday, March 18 at 12 pm to support institutions, conferences, organizations, and restaurants to shift their menus toward more delicious plant-based foods. By implementing small menu changes, restaurants can serve more inclusive, climate-friendly food and reach a wider customer base by expanding their plant-based menu offerings. The webinar will be led by Ilana Braverman, DefaultVeg Director of Outreach who states, “DefaultVeg loves working with restaurants to help them shift their menus to serve more delicious, inclusive, sustainable options by default. It’s a win-win-win for customers, the planet, and for business.”
DefaultVeg as a concept is simple—make plant-based food the default and give people the choice to opt-in for meals with animal products. DefaultVeg is inclusive, reduces your carbon footprint, and increases the healthfulness of your meals. Making plant-based food the default can help reshape what we think of as a “normal” meal. Whether at your dinner table or in a dining hall, how food is presented plays a big role in what we choose to eat.
Interested parties can register for the free Zoom webinar here: http://bit.ly/DefaultToVeg.
Other sponsoring organizations include the Black Vegetarian Society of Maryland, A Well-Fed World, VegFund, Womxn Funders in Animal Rights, Eat The Change, Mercy for Animals, and NutritionFacts.org. The organizers admit to seeing a cultural trend of shifting toward more plant-based diets and how each Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week is helping to build that momentum. Nothing brings people together quite like good food.
At Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week, everyone is welcome at the table. The mission of Vegan Restaurant Week is to bridge the gap by increasing the awareness, benefits, and accessibility of a plant-based diet through a fun, innovative, and community-based experience. Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week became an instant hit when more than 30 local Baltimore restaurants joined in for the inaugural event in the summer of 2017. Vegan Restaurant Week is scheduled to run, again, this summer in August. For more information, check out the website at www.mdveganeats.com.